Folktober Sonnets by Paul Brookes

Autumnal Green Man

Spiders thread my lips lightly together.
My leaves become their actual colours
and fall from my face, red, yellow, ochre.
My voice rustle of green leaves is no more.

I am the scent of ripe apple and pear.
I am the rain on sodden bark, slow time.
My days shorter, dark sooner, light rarer.
I am burning leaves. Face of Harvest time.

After the fires, my mouth nose and eyes spout green
shoots, new leaves bud and grow on my barkskin.
I flourish once more. An aspect of dream.
Memory of ice. Warmth without, within.

In stone, wood or paper I decay lose
definition, but still my image grows

2. Erl-King

Hear the gust music my air blows through this reed?
Inhabits your ear, delights all your senses.
A new birdsong, fresh animal track, beads
a sprightly beat, warm summer days, tenses

new sugar tastes on your tongue, blood hums your bones.
Now you see me, in rich purple, rare blue.
Your mouth opens, I reach out, touch your grown
laughter, imprison your youth in situ.

I am your first child who needs shelter, hugs,
clothes, your patience and long conversations.
I am your elderly parents that tug
at their recall more and more frustration.

Enticed by freedom find yourselves in chains.
I laugh and play a sprightly flute on your pains.

3. Freybug

"Be not afraid of fray-bugs which lie in
the way." so English martyr describes me
1555. I'm a frightening
 obstacle to overcome. Popery

railed against, authority imprisoned
him, requested he recant, he refused.
They ordered him burnt He welcomed
hugged stake said it was cross of Christ. And loosed,

" Welcome Everlasting life!" Not afraid
of me when he met me in various
ways. Burnt February of year he made
mention of me his words always pious.

Some say I'm reason, today's way who blocks
fanaticism, shows easy paths plot.

4. I, Ginny Greenteeth

I, Ginny Greenteeth invite all of you,
boys and girls to dance and play on this green
mat, I've laid out especially for you.
Look how the sun shines on it. The wild sheen

invites your feet to press upon it, fetch
football to its wonderful pitch, not
scuffed up and muddy but fresh and fine, stretch
your legs, leap on this cool turf goal spot.

Don't read those old, battered out of date signs.
Don't listen to uncool mam and dad bleat
to you about playing safe. Where's the fun time
in that? Risk it for a biscuit. Compete.

I will take you where you can play all day.
Step on this duckweed, don't do as they say.

5. We Were Green

tending to flocks of mother and dad's big cattle,
we hear clapping of bells, a call
to colour of bells, we fell into twig
of twilight, a dark cave of hammers fall.

They said our words were not understanding,
so we went with them, our garb they were not
knowing, and we were green and lazing
They took us with them to a big door knock.

Inside they passed foul tastes bruv and me were
having none of until we could split pods
roll the bean inside our strange tongues slur
and soon we were pink again and their god

taught us their way of understanding to
I can say these things. Am servant and do.

6. The Marden Mermaid

Bell banging, clattering keeps me awake. 
so rope that held it snaps and it rolls here. 
Sunk into my home this bright stream's intake. 
I wrap myself inside it, searchers near. 

I sleep while twelve white freemartins with yokes 
of sacred yew and mountain ash bands dredge 
and men bind rope to bell, drawn out by folk
in needful silence. Raised to river's edge, 

I asleep inside. Excited driver 
calls out, "In spite of all the devil's in 
hell, now we'll land Marden's great bell.", diver 
with bell I announce "If it had not been

for your wittern bands and your yew tree pin, 
I'd have had your twelve freemartins in!" 

*Freemartin was a sterile cow 

7. Sheela Na Gig

I sit in stone above this church door. 
You must crane your neck to see me carved here. 
I am bald naked my pendulous raw 
breasts hang just above my spread legs. Come near. 

Life enters and returns to me. What 
is it about me that fascinates you? 
Celebrate my fertility and shock 
of my age. Once I was hidden from view. 

I was in darkness, a cloth thrown over 
me. Somebody was ashamed of what they 
saw in me. Cloth lifted, life unsmothered. 
Folk passing through my door see my display. 

I don't know why I was placed so high up. 
I look down, vulnerable, opened up. 

8. I, Owlman

I, Owlman fly above the church steeple 
in corrugated cardboard wings made by mum, stapled and brown sellotaped in full. 
Didn't mean to scare those girls who walked by. 

My feathers are all soggy in the rain, fall 
apart. Soon owl will go, leaving just me. 
Mum took sharp scissors and curled all 
these brown paper strips now all soggy. 

Kitchen roll tubes are like a skeleton 
under my wings. My claws weren't very sharp, 
so I used kitchen knives after she passed on. 

My late mum is an owl now with a harp. 
I used to only go out in the dark 
as an owl. Now I, Owlman in my heart. 

9. Every Woman Needs To Be a Dryad

I am all my tree, and my tree is me.
Cut my bark, and I bleed. I float on leaves.
Lay your back against my skin, tell story
after story. Words are my memories.

I asked to be a tree when He refused
to leave me alone. Endlessly chased.
I got tired of always being abused.
He says my sexiness makes him sex crazed.

As if it is my fault He feels like that.
Told Him I don't make Him do anything.
He's responsible, His choice how He acts.
As a tree I hide, watch all happenings.

Every women needs a secret place.
A place where she has no fear to face.

10. The Standing Stone

I am just stood standing here. Don't know why? 
Folk gawk at me, as for a miracle. 
Run their fingers through spirals chiselled by 
someone who had a reason to channel

their beliefs into my solid body. 
Probably same folk who quarried and moved 
me here, raised me up here meaningfully. 
Stone doesn't hurt, doesn't bleed. Pressured

into what I am. You make me something special. Set me up for some strange purpose. - Once I must have had some meaning. 
I find meaning in holding up the skies range. 

I may topple over at some near time. 
Till then I'm stood standing, a weathered sign. 

11. A Jabberwock

Welcome, Welcome a frumly Jabberwock. 
Put away your leptimous gronky blade. 
Its harkless flames are spidgeons on umnous clock. 
Mouth your impsy words flunty pullisades. 

Welcome, Welcome a durkast Jabberwock. 
Offer it afterswoon tea and lockly scones, 
raise a swabbly glass to its fibblywock, 
raise another to its true coddlemoan. 

Lets celebrate one another's jull, 
in this grameless land where pomelders play 
amongst sundblast and tough crockly mimples, 
Sleep mafely in the grummidge of today. 

Only when we grell of ourselves in horkly, 
can we live gethertookness in borkly. 

12.  I'm a Hobgoblin

I help you out round the house at nighttime. 
I'm naked but for all these hairs on me. 
"You mucky bugger." Your wife sees my grime. 
"Your hairs all over the bloody bath. Look .See." 

She does not know me, per our old agreement. 
"Have you been washing livestock in this bath? 
These hairs are too coarse to be yours. I've spent 
too long cleaning up, after you. All faff. 

I'm better off on my own. You make work." 
Your wife's rant might mean I don't get fed. Neat. 
I'l sour your milk. Clog your drains. Can't catch jerk. 
I'm an ornament, I'm a bucket. Fleet. 

Can't trust you when you lie to your fine wife. 
She should marry hobgoblin, get a life. 

13. I, Blackthorn

My leaves in autumn yellow, winter fall 
leave me a stark twisted black skeleton. 
I dwell on woodland edge as thicket wall 
hedgerow. Hawthorn, Elder companions. 

My barkskin rough, scaly, bright orange flood 
under my dark grey surface, thickets dark, 
dense, thorny, sapwood light yellow, heartwood 
brown. Thorns long and sharp if pricked, turn septic. Mark

musk-scented small, delicate, white flowers 
oval petalled cluster into a star 
shape early spring. Blossoms, thin, rounder 
tooth edged white, with red-tipped threads. Globular

small blue-black or deep purplish, round lip glossed 
summer berries ripen after first frost. 

14. I, Nucklalevee

My mouth is wide, I breathe on your ripe crops 
make them wilt, breathe plague into your horses. 
My vein and muscle is not wrapped and topped 
by skin, poisoned and scalded by doses

of water from the black sky I retreat 
into saltwater waves back to mother 
who tries to keep me close bound to her sweet 
all the length of the hot days in summer. 

Come winter my hooves canter ashore, two headed, 
my horse head a living wave, tall 
as if a rider my body grown through 
the horses back, my other head, one eye ball, 

wide mouth agape, my arms trail down touch earth, 
I bring drought, disease, your prayers and worse. 

15. A Cerne Abbas Giant

Once fully clothed, a cape over my left
arm whose hand carried a head by its hair,
a knobbly cudgel in my right I heft.
Soon my carried head and cape is not there.

And someone carves an erect appendage.
First a stubby thing then made to include
my belly button. I reflect this age.
My chalk refreshed regularly. A prude

I can't be. Once they hid, tried to get rid
of this added bit. Now all is brightened.
I'm cared for, watched over, weathered, In spit
and shine, folk climb me, perhaps enlightened.

I'm what you make of me, you fetch yourself,
and all you've been through, your wealth.

16. By Peg Powler

You call me a hag. Foam flecks on water,
are my suds, thin layer here is my cream.
How beautiful are your ankles closer,
closer now to the edge of my fine stream.

Let me look. Let me see your lovely skin
and delicate bone. I had to grab one
to feel it's soft curve, to taste blood within.
Let me take you down, where there is no sun.

Come canny lads and lasses, you're my bait,
delicious food, playing close to the edge.
Let me take you to my place in the spate,
where no one tells you what and when, my fledge.

I'm more than a warning of dangerous water. 
I'll not starve. Kids are nutritious.

17. A Queen of Elfthame

I rule a nameless land, my glamour shines 
a clear skinned thin high cheeked young 
woman whom 
some human males boast conquered many times, 
will find a gift from faerie has its own boon. 

It will ask that they lose what they treasure most. 
More they stroke my thighs in private, more humans notice their magic measure, 
more kiss my full lips more public their fate. 

They name this land and define those within. 
It's name will stay unknown to them, as will life of those bairns from our togethering. 
These men will burn as witches, a deal fulfilled. 

I will coddle these halflings, my children. 
They'll be a bridge between our rich living. 

18. I'm An Apple Tree Man

invented as good stories to engross. 
Perhaps I'm real in imagination. 
I am wizenned as a rotting fruit loss, 
Muscled as toughest barkskins creation. 

Make up tales about me and this orchard. 
A penniless man sups his last cider, 
rests his back against one of my trees hard 
skin, I appear and find him gold and finer. 

Perhaps Lord or Lady of Dreams gifted 
you visions, that's why sources are hazy 
tales told so well, they are uplifted, 
so readers wish them authentic story. 

Telling false from true is necessity. 
A good tale told lives in the memory. 

19. The Sin Eater

As you die I'll feast on your thou shalt nots. 
My fried chips is your lust for another. 
My boiled egg is your envy of others lot. 
Roast beef is your thieving from your brother. 

This lean bacon is your Pride. So proudful. 
These baked beans are your endless gluttony, 
Laziness your job, turnip your Slothful. 
Salt and pepper Wrath forever angry. 

Thank you to your family and friends pence 
and free meal of bread and ale. The rest dream 
I dreamt myself with each mouthful. Have sense 
shun me now. Your dead Heaven bound serene. 

I'll heft these inside myself. Pale Hunger 
my constant friend for a short while longer. 

20.  A Mordiford Dragon

Her mum and dad told Maud don't bring that here, 
over our threshold, take it back where you got it from, so she returns me to a near 
wood, feeds me milk filched from fat cows and ewes. 

Grown out of milk, she fetches rats and cats. 
Soon my wings are broad and wide, I ascend. 
Maud is so small from here. I swoop on fat 
beef and tasty sheep to slaughter and rend. 

No, no, no. She screams at me. I'm hungry 
I tell her. Soon her friends the villagers 
are marching armed towards my wood, angry. 
One lances through my neck. Fatal damage. 

I imagine her parents saying I 
told you so. Maud weeps for me as I die. 

21. Dorset Ooser

I'm a mask. Two holes for eyes where there 
are no eyes. Inside these small spaces is a 
larger place where a brain would be where 
thinking would take place and a tongue to say

what comes to mind, instead I'm emptiness. 
When you wear me I don't have your brain, 
tongue, but you are different more or less 
from when you don't wear me, you're not the same. 

I have horns and a moveable jaw. When 
you speak through me, I don't speak. I always 
say nothing. You have all the words to bend 
to thoughts I never have. These word ways

are a mystery to me. How am I 
speaking now? I'm only a mask. So why? 

22. A Lincoln Imp

Tell you why I'm motionless here, grinning 
down at you. Satan let us out to play. 
Mate and I sat on a church spire twisting 
it. Chesterfield never had better days. 

Next we blew through that door. Tripped up Bishop. 
So serious. In the Angel Choir broke 
chairs and tables till angel out a hymn book 
told us to stop, so I lobbed stones at bloke

while mate scarpers to Grimsby, where angel 
catches him,smacks his arse, turns him to 
as he did to me. At least mate can waggle his smacked arse at visitors I'm alone. 

Need a bit of fun in this God given 
place packed full of all praying and hymning. 

23. My Wyvern

I am what you make of me. Make of me
what you will. In my wake is grass marked, 
slime, or frogspawn and flounders spawned? Angry
twine of my knotted tail, my temper dark
and venomous? An image on a shield, 
a tattoo on your skin. Bat winged, razor 
claws. I'm Tyrannosaurus Rex revealed.
or Pterodactyl, extinct become lore.
Mouth open forked tongue often out. Beware,
an image will attach itself to you.
It's not me. Simplifies me. You declare.
I'm more complicated than this crude view.
I'm called a dreadful creature, by some. Seen,
maligned by others . I'm found in between.

24. I'm Cailleach

I constantly move under my own weight.
I slowly deform, flow under stresses
induced by my own weight to create 
seracs, formed by intersecting crevasses.
Old hag's stick strike makes ice, hammer makes hills,
moves mountains. I am Queen of the Winter.
I freeze your bones, give you the shake of chills.
I'm earth mover, rock breaker, bone splitter.
I'm a one-eyed giantess with white hair, dark 
blue skin, and rust-coloured teeth. Glacier
I'm retreating, losing fight with heats mark
melts me increases ocean, disappear.
I'm a divine hag who is more and more 
absent.  Soon I will be myth and folklore

25. To My Will-o'-the Wisp

Follow my light my love. I will lead you home, where it's warm and cosy, a welcome
after bone crunching cold,that leads you askew,
after unsafe ground makes you slip, fall undone.

Succumb to my will-o'-the-wisp, Hope's way. This is not quicksand it is a loving
embrace. This is not a cliff edge but play
of freedom. A step into excitement proving

our Will knows how you can be the best
you can be. Lights in the dark are homely,
comfort when all around is danger's test.
Let our lights take you in. Don't be lonely.

Please, please, please let us lead your weary way.
Our aim in life is to lead you astray.

26. I, Black Annis

am an anchoress made scarer of children.
I am a woman on her own, my needs
alone with my God in supplication.
When a woman knows her own mind it leads

to folk being afeard. Folk start to invent,
as it's not normal how I am and act.
My long crooked fingers enter homes bent
to steal their naughty children, threat is fact.

Dead, my faithfulness to Him forgotten,
I am a warning story to control
their offspring, a monster to haunt dreams when,
a good, hard telling off doesn't work at all.

Price of a woman's determination
to live her own life in hibernation.

27. Wary Lunantisihde

Moon faerie they call us who guard Blackthorn.
Cailleach's stick. We worship her who only 
uncovers parts of her face, then full on
face. She is crescent, blood, blue, wolf, Barley.

I'm spiky like the gnarled thorns of our home.
We curse all who threaten our place, break her
inhabited heart, this beautiful crone.
lit by storm, chaste, seed, corn, dyad, mead, hare.

Red sap, white flowers, black bark. The year's, 
a life's, the moon's waning, celebrates all 
change with my long arms, legs and pointed ears.
I'm one you struggle through, a sharp wall.

Both moon and tree are our close belonging.
Bark, berries and leaves clean blood, are healing.

28. I Am Mari Lwyd

Horse skull on a stick carried door to door
by men anxious for food and drink. We sing
to be welcomed in, often more and more
as those within do not to let us in.
My eyes glass bottle bottoms. My skull dressed
in bells and ribbons, reveller beneath 
my sackcloth. I am the undead mare. Blessed
is home let's me in, responds to my brief
"Well here we come. Innocent friends. To ask 
leave. To ask leave. To ask leave to sing." And
in I will neighing gallop in my mask
round your home. Snap my jaw. Restrained by hand
playfully by my fellow mates to stop
me playin up a riot. And on we trot.

29. A Kelpie

Children see a horse beside this water. 
Tempted to come over and stroke my mane. 
I let them do so and their hand sticks there. 
They can't yank it free, I walk their pain

towards the water. They don't want to drown. 
Take out a blade. Cut and cut and cut. 
Blood merges with waves. I take his hand down, 
into the depths. Bloody stump lets up. 

Tomorrow, I'm a beautiful woman. 
Tempted to come over and stroke my hair. 
I let him do so and his hand holds on. 
I let him do so and his hand sticks there. 

Resist all but temptation these humans. 
I drown those overcome by emotion. 

30. Lambton Worm

Old bloke warns lad no good comes from missing 
church. As lad casts a line I snap maggot 
Service ends. Bloke tells him he's netting
a Devil. Lobs me down a well to rot. 

Lad now man is off to Crusades to do penance for his youthful and rebel ways. 
Well becomes poisonous as I grow too.
Local livestock delicious, kids good prey. 

Coil myself round a hill, then to Lambton 
Castle where lads father offers me milk 
of nine good cows daily. Twenty gallon. 
Soon son will return, kill me, curse his ilk. 

I am the ear worm for songs, a simple tale. 
Don't neglect your God, or your folk will fail. 

31. My Screaming Skull

Fetched back to my beloved hall. Tell all 
"I'll not rest, unless I, or part of me 
at least remain here, in our beautiful 
home as long as it lasts. My head must be

separated from my body and placed 
on a table in this hall." They bury 
me intact in our churchyard. I raged 
loud crashes and bangs in the night. Sully

my last wish will they? Disinterred they shocked 
to find my body detached from fleshless grinning skull. I'm desire to be home locked. 
I'm many wishes or else cause distress. 

Don't rip me out of my own belonging 
you'll find home a world you don't belong in. 

Wolfpack Contributor: Paul Brookes

Sonnet Series: “Wombwell Cemetery” by Paul Brookes

About Bats: The Chiroptera Sonnets by Paul Brookes

Arachnida Sonnets by Paul Brookes (an occasional series)

The Insect Sonnets by Paul Brookes

By davidlonan1

David writes poetry, short stories, and writings that'll make you think or laugh, provoking you to examine images in your mind. To submit poetry, photography, art, please send to Twitter: @davidLOnan1 + @feversof Facebook: DavidLONan1


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